This study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the neural systems activated during an intertemporal choice task in a group of 14- to 19-year-old adolescents, as well as the relationship of such activation patterns to individual differences in the self-reported ability to engage in nonimmediate thinking (i.e., less impulsive and more future-oriented thoughts and action). With increasing age, there was greater differentiation between patterns of brain activity for immediate versus future choices across three distinct brain systems involved in intertemporal choice - those involved in exerting control over behavior, attributing affective value to choices, and imagining future outcomes. Furthermore, a greater propensity toward self-reported nonimmediate thinking was associated with decreased activity in the systems involved in cognitive control, possibly suggesting that individuals with greater self-reported nonimmediate thinking need to rely less on cognitive control regions during conditions of intertemporal choice. These results highlight the role that both developmental age and individual differences play in influencing neural systems involved in intertemporal choice. Implications for understanding the onset of substance abuse disorders during adolescence are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Clinical Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health